Valley Christian sits on the opposite side of the bracket from defending state champion Yuma Catholic, but that doesn’t make the Trojans’ path through the 2A baseball tournament much easier.
Valley Christian, winner of the Metro Region, begins play Friday morning against the winner of today’s Willcox-Desert Christian play-in game.
Four play-in games today will whittle the field to 16 teams with eight games scheduled for Friday morning.
And if the Trojans can advance, the road gets a bit rockier. West Region runner-up Maricopa and East Region champion Bisbee stand in the way of Valley Christian’s run to the finals.
At a glance:
When: Today (play-in games), Friday, Saturday, May 11 and May 12
Where: Maryvale Baseball Park, 3600 N. 51st Ave., Phoenix (first four days); championship game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, 5999 E. Van Buren, Phoenix
Today’s games: 4 p.m. - Willcox vs. Desert Christian, Gila Bend vs. Phoenix Christian, Northwest Christian vs. Many Farms; Tombstone vs. San Pasqual.
Friday’s games: 9 a.m. - Valley Christian vs. Willcox-Desert Christian winner; Maricopa vs. Camp Verde, Bisbee vs. Gila Bend-Phoenix Christian winner; Hayden vs. Williams; Northwest Christian-Many Farms winner vs. Yuma Catholic; Benson vs. San Manuel; Noon - Tombstone-San Pasqual winner vs. St. Johns; Bourgade vs. Tucson Pusch Ridge.
Favorite: Yuma Catholic - The Shamrocks have compiled a 24-5 record and likely won’t have to face a No. 1 seed from another region. They face the Northwest Christian-Many Farms winner Friday. The Shamrocks, the defending state champs, are paced by Erick Martinez, who is hitting .573 with 51 hits and 65 RBIs. He is second on the team in home runs to Matt Inman, a .545 hitter with seven homers and 52 RBIs. A pair of eight-game winners lead the pitching staff — Jayson Koppinger and Bobby Rodriguez. Yuma Catholic did lose earlier in the year to Valley Christian and region rival Maricopa.
Dark horse: Valley Christian — The Trojans were ranked first in the final Arizona Baseball Coaches Association poll and sport a 22-4 record to go with their Metro Region title. Valley Christian may have to face a pair of tough opponents to reach the title game. If all goes well in its first-round game with either Willcox or Desert Christian on Friday, they figure to face West Region runner-up Maricopa on Saturday and then East Region champ Bisbee (24-5) is a likely foe in the semifinals. Pitcher Sam Moore is 8-1 with a 2.96 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings. Koby Temple (.614) and David Blasi (.590) are two potent hitters in the lineup. Temple has 12 home runs and 53 RBIs. Moore (30 RBIs) and Blasi (27 RBIs) are also good run producers.
Outlook: Look for the top seeds to dominate, meaning Yuma Catholic, Valley Christian, Bisbee and Winkelman Hayden are the teams to watch. Maricopa also might make some noise, led by pitcher Lionel Iglesias. Iglesias has a 2.37 ERA, has won six games and also is hitting .394. The Rams’ top run producer is Matt Fierros (.468 average, 23 RBIs).